DAVE GLEASON'S WASTED DAYS
"Just Fall To Pieces"
(Well Worn Records)
"There's a jukebox in heaven where the honky tonk heroes gather each afternoon to drink a little poison and swap stories of Bakersfield and Nashville. Charlie Rich laughs it up with Gene Clark while Buck Owens shows off his latest Nudie suit. In the background, Dave Gleason's Wasted Days sings about soul and suds, a jubilant celebration of California country rock that makes the bygone ramblers smile." A quote from the infosheet that came with "Just Fall To Pieces", the third album by Dave Gleason's Wasted Days. Dave himself is a third generation Bay Area resident, he writes and sings the songs, plays the electric and acoustic guitars plus some banjo and percussion. John Kent is the drummer in Wasted Days, Mike Therieau (who just made his own "Living >From A Suitcase") plays bass and harmonica, he also sings, just like Pat Johnson (acoustic guitar). We'll come to the guest musicians later...
Nudie suits, these guys even wear what looks like the real thing: those brightly colored suits, embroidered with rhinestones, first made famous by The Flying Burrito Brothers, because Gram Parsons liked them so much. And there are a lot of influences from bygone days noticeable in their music too. Country music in all its appearances, from early seventies Californian countryrock indeed via hardcore honkytonk to the flavors of TexMex. With lots of pedal steel guitar (played by Joe Goldmark) all over the album.
There are quite a bit of highlights... The CD starts off with Albert Lee on lead guitar in "Look At The Way You've Become". Followed by "Right Back To Her Heart", uptempo countryrocker in Tom Petty-style, great 12-string played by Michael Montalto of Red Meat, nice drumming too and then everything slows down midsong: nice touch! "Train Of Blue", the bassist playing a little bit of Johnny Cash's "chicka-boom" rhythm throughout. And the more than fabulous (I'm a fan, as you can tell) Jim Campilongo plays the leadguitar here! "Rusty Ol' Halo" is a cover, Hoyt Axton's version is unforgettable but I like this catchy take too. Cool kickdrum, percussion, banjo sneaking in and a very good acoustic guitarpart.
The title-track forms the beautiful six-and-a-half minutes long heart of the album. With Albert Lee again. Slower, wistful, still with abundant pedal steel. I find the lyrics to this one underneath the disc (other lyrics are nowhere in sight or on the site, unfortunately). "They're playing all the sad ones on the jukebox / The ones about a love that went wrong / That steel guitar, it nearly breaks my heart / And I'm crying 'cause my world has come apart". Simple but effective. "Neon Rose" and "(Wine) Take Away My Mind" are both wonderful TexMex songs, featuring the accordion, that's Michael Montalto playing it. The combination with Spanish style acoustic guitar on "(Wine) Take Away My Mind" also works very well.
My favorites? "Since You Went Away", slow, the organ, played by Dan Eisenberg from Tift Merritt's band. Dave Gleason has a perfect voice to sing this music but now we hear the right Gram Parsons heartbreak! I just love this line: "Your cards and your letters are in a safe place". And the "odd" instrumental track, "Campin' With A Cat", that I like so much I even had it start off my radioshow. Yes, featuring the great stringbender Jim Campilongo again!
There are a couple of countrysongs without extras and I don't care too much for them. The last track ends the album truly nice though, "Wildfire (In Your Eyes)". An interesting interplay of pedal steel guitar, organ and very nice singing, Thom Moore of The Moore Brothers is a guest vocalist here. As long as we're in a Flying Burrito Brothers mood every now and then, there's plenty of room for the good music of Dave Gleason & Friends too!
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, December 2007.